A case study on the junior graduation programme at years 9 and 10 of one school involved with the SMAD (Schools Making a Difference) Project.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
This research project investigated teachers' and students' perceptions of one initiative put in place in a low-decile school in Christchurch to strengthen educational delivery and educational outcomes for students at the school. The initiative, known as the Graduation Programme, focused on Years 9 and 10 students. To graduate to the next year level, students had to engage in goal setting and obtain the required number of points to graduate. This case study was based on the narratives of six teachers and eight at-risk students directly involved in the Graduation Programme. It focused primarily on their perceptions of the programme and its impact on improved educational outcomes for students. Overall, the students' accounts indicated that the Graduation Programme had led to a change in how teachers related and interacted with them in the classroom. This was largely due to a major requirement of the programme that students be given frequent feedback on their progress in a number of defined areas. The consequent increase in teacher/student interaction resulted in improved relationships and, in most cases, improved performance by the students. Teachers' perceptions of the programme, however, tended not to be so positive. For teachers, low staff morale, workload issues and staff retention made it difficult for them to engage effectively with the programme and to recognise its potential long-term benefits. The study highlights issues surrounding the success of the programme for nonresilient, at-risk students. It also puts forward the challenge that such programmes will only be effective if the professional development initiatives put in place to support them provide tangible and immediate links with classroom practice.